Financial Aid for International Students

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by Lauren Mack

Published July 7, 2022

Reviewed by R.J. Weiss

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Financial Aid for International Students
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International students studying in the U.S. face many challenges, including the high cost of college. Studying in the U.S. can be expensive as the tuition and fees are much higher than in other countries. International students typically pay out-of-state tuition and fees, which averaged $26,382 for undergraduates at public four-year schools in 2018-2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

In addition to tuition and room and board, international students have additional expenses like travel and moving costs, visa fees, and phone and banking expenses. Financial aid is typically limited for international students, but there are resources for international students that can help them pay the high costs of studying in the U.S.

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Ready to start your journey?

Can International Students Apply for the FAFSA?

Even with careful budget planning, most students need financial aid to cover college costs. Students use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if they're eligible for institutional and federal aid like merit- and need-based scholarships, grants, the Federal Work-Study Program, student loans, and more.

International students aren't eligible for federal aid, but they are eligible for institutional aid — scholarships and grants schools offer. Colleges with large international student populations may have more scholarships for international students. As part of their college preparations, international students should complete the FAFSA to see if they are eligible for institutional aid.

Scholarships for International Students in the U.S.

In addition to the international student scholarships below, check your country's embassy or consulate in the U.S., your country's government office in your country, and your college or career school's financial aid office for more international student scholarship options.

American Association of University Women International Fellowships

Who's eligible? International female graduate and postdoctoral students

Deadline: Varies

Award amount: $18,000 (master's degree), $20,000 (doctoral degree), $30,000 (postdoctoral study)

The AAUW has been awarding international fellowships since 1917. The fellowship is for international female graduate and postdoctoral students who intend to pursue careers in their home countries.

AAUW also grants some awards to Graduate Women International members for study or research in any country other than their own, including foreign branches of U.S. institutions.

Apply for Scholarship

British Council IELTS Prize

Who's eligible? Test-takers living in Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, and South Africa who will begin undergraduate or postgraduate studies in 2023-24 at an educational institution that accepts IELTS as part of its admission process

Deadline: September 30, 2022

Award amount: 3,000

Applicants must take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam with the British Council between September 1, 2021, and September 15, 2022, and be able to produce a valid IELTS score of 5.5 or above. Recipients can study at any educational institution that requires IELTS as part of its admission process.

Apply for Scholarship

Fulbright Foreign Student Program

Who's eligible? Graduate students from more than 160 countries

Deadline: Varies by country

Award amount: Varies by country

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program is an international academic exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Since 1946, it has supported 400,000 students from 165 countries. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program awards about 4,000 Fulbright scholarships to international students each year.

Scholarship eligibility and selection vary by country. The Fulbright Scholar Program also offers additional programs and funding for non-U.S. scholars.

Apply for Scholarship

Margaret McNamara Education Grants U.S.-Canada Program

Who's eligible? Female undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students from developing countries

Deadline: January 15, 2023

Award amount: Up to $15,000

These education grants are for women from these developing countries already enrolled in accredited universities in the U.S. and Canada. Applicants must be at least 25 years old, demonstrate financial need, and be "committed to working for the well-being of women and children." Applicants do not need to be earning a degree -- they can be enrolled in a certificate program.

Apply for Scholarship

MPower Financing Global Citizen Scholarship

Who's eligible? International and DACA college students

Deadline: July 15, 2022

Award amount: $10,000 (Grand Prize), $2,000 (Runner-up), and $2,000 (Honorable Mention)

This is a scholarship program for international and DACA college students. Applicants must be accepted to or enrolled in an MPOWER partner school. The application requires completing an application form and submitting an essay.

MPower also offers scholarships for international or DACA MBA students and female students in STEM. They also have a monthly scholarship program.

Apply for Scholarship

Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program

Who's eligible? Citizens from these World Bank member developing countries who are applying for a master's degree program in a development-related topic, including economic policy management, tax policy, and infrastructure management

Deadline: February 28, 2022 or May 27, 2022, depending on your program

Award amount: Varies

Recipients must attend at least one of 26 participating master's degree programs outside of the applicant's country of citizenship and residence.

The scholarship covers the duration of the graduate program or two years, whichever is shorter. The scholarship includes two-way economy air travel, $500 travel allowances for each trip, tuition, cost of basic medical insurance, and monthly allowance for living expenses, including accommodation, food, and textbooks.

Apply for Scholarship

Rotary Foundation Global Scholarship Grants for Development

Who's eligible? International graduate students studying peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, or economic and community development.

Deadline: Rolling

Award amount: At least $30,000

Rotary clubs around the world fund graduate-level coursework or research at universities in countries with a host Rotary club or district outside the applicant's home country. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, school supplies, and travel for one to four academic years. Eligibility requirements vary by Rotary club.

Apply for Scholarship

International Student Loans

Sometimes scholarships, grants, savings, and budgeting are not enough to cover the cost of an education. Many students take out student loans to help pay for their education. There are two types of loans: federal loans, which are offered by the U.S. government, and private loans, offered by private companies.

International students are only eligible for private loans. International students have several options for private loans. The benefits of private loans include:

Some downsides to taking out private loans include:

Other Financial Aid for International Students

International students may fund their education through a variety of other funding sources, including

Financial Aid from the Country You're From

Some countries offer financial aid for their students to study in the U.S., including:

Financial Aid from Your College

Institutional financial aid is funding offered by your college, university, or educational institution. Institutional financial aid for international students is often limited. Institutional aid may include:

If you don't receive enough financial aid from your school, you may consider appealing for more financial aid.

Can International Students Work in the U.S.?

International students are not eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program. International students may be able to work on-campus (or off-campus after their first year) and make money while in college.

However, international students must find a job related to their course of study and adhere to USCIS guidelines for students on F-1 and M-1 visas. You can use the money you earn to help pay tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with studying in the U.S.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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